All the hard work at the weekly practices and extra solo and dance practices at Ms. Carol’s house culminated in an impressive Spring Concert!

 Kaylen is fourth from the left in the front.

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The Chantarelles sang nine songs, featuring four selections from High School Musical. Kaylen and Sven sang a duet in the High School Musical song The Start of Something New. They both did great. The peformance was a very ambitious undertaking for the director and the singers – lots of two-part harmony, a song in Latin, the fairly difficult High School Musical material – challenging melodies, syncopated rhythms, etc. – and a dance number too.

High school musical

Kaylen getting ready to sing her duet with Sven:

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 Kaylen was very nervous about her duet but she overcame her nervousness and gave the impression, at least, of being very relaxed – she smiled a lot, danced around a bit, looked at Sven like she was supposed to, stayed on key, and was very expressive. I am proud of her and she should be proud of herself.

In the last number they all had to do the dance steps and sing the chorus. They had two older girls leading them in the dance number. Surprisingly, it came off quite well, considering they only had a couple weeks to learn the dance.

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The Lujou Culture Appreciation Group (current members comprise Kaylen, Eevie, Julie and Hsiuchi) went to see the If Group performance of 1234567, as promised. The four of us have been to many art events and music, dance and theatrical performances.  1234567 did not disappoint. They did some surprising and amazing things on the stage – towering structures, people swinging from ropes, layers and layers of gauze screens giving a depth to the scenery. However, there were not as many catchy show tunes as in Freeze! or Who is Santa Claus? and in it sometimes devolved into bad Taiwanese (experimental?) theatre. There was one section that used a blue sceen and real time video taping to clever and humrous effect. It was a long show, and nearing 10 pm, when most of the audience was wont to be nodding off, the cast took to the audience with an interactive composition of a melody and lyrics.

Kaylen having a chocolate egg at intermission, Eevie looking at her mom down in the lobby buying souvenirs and registering for free drawings:

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The beloved Shuiguo Nainai made her appearance at the beginning and end of the show, and was around after the show for exactly 15 pictures. We were not quick enough to get in on that.

We had great seats in the second level, front row. But, all the audience interaction took place on the first level. Maybe we will try to sit there next time. 

Kaylen with ChiChi, the lead character in the show:

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The high barometric pressure of the past two days has me feeling in good spirits. It is sunny but there is a cool breeze blowing through the house. Great days to do laundry as everything on the line dries in a couple hours. Breezes are blowing all the pollution away. These days are rare in Taipei.

Tonight we are going to see a show put on by the If Theatre Group called 1234567.  They do good musical shows for kids – interesting stories, high quality production and not too cutesy. There is nothing worse than a bunch of stuffed animals on the stage screaming “Da jia hao!” We have seen three shows put on by If in the past and they were all very different and all good.

It feels good to have an event planned for Friday night. We have nearly stopped making Friday night plans because there is always a class or we are too tired. But I have cleared the schedule and we are going to a performance tonight! Well, Kaylen and I are going, that is. Daddy has to work his usual 15 hour day. Kaylen and I will take showers and get ready, then head into Taipei early and have dinner somewhere. Then our friends Hsiuchi and Eevie are meeting us there, and maybe we will go out for cake after the show…

A nice place to window shop and snack is Zhong Zheng Road near the Shihlin MRT stop.  A favorite outing of ours is to go to the yarn store on the corner and then have lunch at Ikari. The yarn store is located at Zhong Zheng Rd and Zhong Shan N. Rd intersection across from McDonald’s on the 2F.

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 Just around the corner from here one can stock up on everything Kitty at the Eastern Cherry Boutique (notice the 7-11s in both pictures, the two stores are within 100 yards of each other):

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 Totoro puzzle

Kaylen has graduated to the small piece puzzles and recently completed a 300 piece puzzle of Totoro. She had some help from me as well as her friend Eevie and her cousin Yirong. On Saturday night Kaylen and I stayed up until midnight working on the puzzle. We couldn’t stop ourselves! On Sunday Kaylen and Yirong finished it and on Monday Kaylen wanted to rush out and buy another Studio Ghibli puzzle. Luckily, we found some at the Hands Tailung Craft Store at the Breeze Center in Taipei.  She started working on it last night. This one is a picture of Mei.

Kaylen learned some great ‘puzzling’ strategies like sorting all the dark blue pieces by the numer of heads on each piece. It really exercises your brain to distinguish fine differences in hue and shape. Everyone should have a nice, big puzzle going that the whole family can pour over when they have time.

Meet Ermendarde, the newest addition to our cloth doll family. Kaylen did most of the sewing on Ermengarde:

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Here are the dolls we have made so far – Hannah, Ermengarde, Yoko and Fiffy:

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We got our pattern for these dolls from a Martha Stewart Kids magazine that my sister Erica had. Hannah and Fiffy we made in America with Erica, and Yoko and Ermengarde we made after we got back to Taiwan.

Friday playgroup this week found us at a new (for us) indoor recreational spot in Taipei – the exclusive Beitou Resort.

 Located at the Fuxinggang MRT stop on the Red Line, this resort was originally created for MRT staffers to use. It is one of those weird government projects that you encounter occasionally inTaiwan. A big cavernous, lonely, wind-blown place for which a lot of money was spent to build, but which was never planned to be used, a slush-fund project. It takes me back to communist China and all the cavernous, lonely, pointless, wind-blown structures there…

 The first surprise we had is that we must enter the Resort from the MRT station. Then we walked across a bridge over the train yard to get to it. Since it is cleverly disguised as a either a train depot or a prison, we weren’t at all sure we were in the right place. We found the expansive steps leading up to the main door, but the main door was locked. There was not a soul around. The only sound was that of the weed whippers at work mowing the grass between the tracks in the train yard. We found a stairway leading downstairs and headed that way. Luckily, there was someone filling an ATM and he was able to give us general directions to the main desk. We pressed on down wide hallways, past huge banquet and meeting rooms. Finally we found someone at a desk in the exercise room.

Seeing all the benefits of this place we quickly bought ourselves a NT$200 membership in the club. One mom took the wiser approach of getting a guest pass to check it out before committing.

 Membership lets you use the facilities for a small extra charge: NT$60 for the kids’ playroom, NT$90 for the pool. The pool looked nice – a lap pool, a kiddie pool and a diving pool.

The kids had a great time in the playroom, and we definitely plan to go swimming there at some point. It is a nice place to add to our (short) list of good indoor places to go for playgroup.

So, if you want to go, just get off at the Fuxinggang exit and ask for directions. You will need two ID photos and some picture ID to get a membership card made. Children also need cards so bring photos and all for them as well. Children need socks in the playroom!

Places in Taiwan are funny: they are either super crowded or super dead.

Beitou Resort is the blue and grey building off to left, next to the depot:

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Inmates, er, “members” this way:

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Landscaping crew at the Resort:

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